Greek prime minister calls elections 2 years early
- Story Highlights
- Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced elections Thursday
- Called early elections in response to pressure from opposition Socialist Party
- PM called for "stringent control on public spending … war on tax-evasion"
(CNN) — Greek voters will go to the polls to elect a new government two years early, Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis announced Thursday.
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis says he wants to enact reforms in response to the international financial crisis.
He called the early elections in response to pressure from the opposition Socialist Party, which threatened to block the election of a president in February if there was no general election first.
Karamanlis is also seeking a mandate from the voters for reforms in response to the international financial crisis, he said.
"It’s up to the citizens to decide who has the right plan to govern and face the economic challenges," he said in a speech to the country.
"We have two very difficult and critical years ahead of us," he said in the speech on Wednesday. "There is only one path that offers hope and potential: We take — without delay, without procrastination — take all necessary measures to address these problems. By design and desire. We need to build the solid foundation that will ultimately get us out of this crisis stronger."
He said the country needs "stringent control on public spending," "war on tax-evasion" and "bold structural reforms."
The new elections will be held October 4, Karamanlis announced Thursday after meeting President Karolos Papoulias, who officially dissolves parliament.
Karamanlis’ term was not due to expire until September 2011.
But Socialist party leader George Papandreou insisted on new elections before the end of Papoulias’ term as president in February. The Greek constitution requires the two major parties to agree on the election of a president, giving either party an effective veto.
Karamanlis called Papandreou’s stance "blackmail."
Parliament will be dissolved on September 7, Karamanlis said on his Web site.
Karamanlis’ conservative New Democracy party suffered a sharp setback in European elections in June, when the Socialists matched New Democracy’s tally of eight seats, with 36 percent of the vote.
That election was seen as a litmus test for Karamanlis at a time of political and economic uncertainty with the economy shrinking and the country staring at a recession after nearly 15 years of high-profile growth.
Όμως δεν ήθελα να κοιτάξω μόνο μια σελίδα και να πω "α, τελείωσα. Αυτα πιστέυουν οι ξένοι για μας.Ήθελα να δω και κάποια άλλη μήπως λέει κάτι διαφορετικό.Μπήκα λοιπόν στη σελίδα των ΝEW YORK TIMES.
Greek Premier, Dogged by Many Troubles, Takes Risk With Snap Elections
ATHENS — When Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis called this week for snap elections, it seemed like an odd decision.
Only halfway through his second term in office, Mr. Karamanlis is dogged by scandals, plummeting popularity, an economy teetering on the brink of a recession and fresh criticism for his handling of devastating forest fires around Athens.
So why call elections when opinion polls predict defeat?
“It sounds like political suicide,” said a senior government adviser and political strategist, speaking on the condition of anonymity, “but it isn’t. It’s a rational decision in an irrational political environment.”
That remains to be seen. Elections were not due before September 2011, and Mr. Karamanlis had consistently said he would serve out his four-year term, determined to steer the country away from a recession.
But this summer, opposition Socialists, emboldened by a spike in popularity, said they would force elections in March, when Parliament will vote for the largely ceremonial post of president.
Faced with what he called “political blackmail,” Mr. Karamanlis emerged Wednesday to say that he would not tolerate serving as a lame-duck prime minister.
“It would be irresponsible of me to allow the country and its economy to drag on through a torrid six-month pre-election period,” Mr. Karamanlis said in a 15-minute address broadcast nationwide. “It would be detrimental for a country requiring necessary reforms and political calm.”
His alternative — snap elections, expected to be held as early as Oct. 4 — would put voters at a clear crossroads, he said, making them choose between the “tough but responsible policies” of his center-right government and the Socialists’ populist promises that could “exacerbate the current crisis.”
He swept aside a generation of Socialist governments when he surged to power in 2004, promising to rule both “modestly” and “humbly,” and to clean up crooked finances and public life.
But since his anemic victory in snap elections in 2007, his government, with a one-seat margin in Parliament, has been plagued by corruption scandals, political turmoil and social unrest over economic policies that uncorked violent protests in December.
So Mr. Karamanlis’s decision to call for early elections, despite the public opposition of some senior members of his cabinet, has puzzled political analysts.
“It’s not the first time snap elections have been called,” said Yannis Pretenderis, a political commentator for To Vima, a newspaper in Athens. “It’s just the first time they are being called by a prime minister heading for an election defeat.”
Mr. Karamanlis said that a prolonged election period, and the traditional handouts and easing of fiscal policy that come with it, would be detrimental for an economy that was already struggling.
But other analysts dismissed his call for early elections as a cynical ploy in which he is using the economy as a pretext for his own political survival.
“At a time when the economy is sinking, Karamanlis is abandoning the ship, leaving his mates — Greek voters struggling through the economic downturn — without a lifeline of support,” George Kyrtsos, a political commentator and publisher of the newspaper City Press, said in an interview.
“Rather than push through an aid package and stick to his guns,” he said, “Karamanlis preferred to call elections, saddle his political foes with the ensuing chaos, allowing him to prepare his next move: a political comeback.”
Senior cabinet ministers and analysts said the beleaguered prime minister was initially considering a sweeping cabinet shuffle. But he changed course, they said, after economic forecasters warned that the country’s finances were getting worse, and that a cabinet shuffle would not be enough to change them.
The Greek government is being pressed by the European Commission to adopt belt-tightening measures to reduce this year’s budget deficit to below the mandated ceiling of 3 percent of gross domestic product, improve competitiveness and severely cut its ballooning public debt.
Greece has already borrowed more than 50 billion euros, about $71 billion, this year to finance its deficit, which is expected to exceed 6 percent of G.D.P., according to a draft budget for 2010.
Breaking the conservatives’ lead in polls since 2004, the Socialist party, known as Pasok, has seen its political fortunes blossom in recent months.
A flurry of opinion polls over the weekend showed Pasok with a 6 percent lead. But it remained unclear whether it would garner enough votes to win an outright majority and govern alone.
“Either way,” Mr. Kyrtsos said, “Karamanlis’s time is up. Greece is turning a new page in its political history.”
Η ισπανική el pais γράφει για το ίδιο θέμα(στα ισπανικά βέβαια)
Elecciones: juego de acusaciones
CONSTANTINE COURCOULAS 06/09/2009
Las elecciones anticipadas no resolverán los problemas de Grecia. La paralización del sistema político -plagado de corrupción, escándalos y amiguismo- está retrasando reformas económicas dolorosas, pero urgentemente necesarias. El primer ministro, Costas Karamanlis, ha convocado elecciones imprevistas, pero no es probable que eso resuelva los problemas.
Grecia tiene el déficit por cuenta corriente, en proporción al PIB, más elevado de la zona euro. La tasa de paro de los licenciados universitarios es del 25%, y el mercado laboral es uno de los más rígidos de la UE. Con una previsión de deuda pública del 109% del PIB para finales de año, el déficit presupuestario previsto del 6,2% es demasiado alto. El país tiene incluso una inflación relativamente alta.
Cierto es que la crisis no ha golpeado excesivamente a Grecia. Se prevé que el PIB caiga en un porcentaje relativamente moderado del 1,7% en 2009, de acuerdo con el FMI. Pero la crisis parece estar erosionando los beneficios aportados por la pertenencia a la UE. Fitch calcula que el sistema bancario, muy ayudado por el apoyo europeo, es el que mayor riesgo a largo plazo corre de Europa Occidental. El transporte marítimo y el turismo, los otros motores de crecimiento del país, han recibido un duro varapalo.
Las crisis ponen a prueba a los políticos y los griegos no la están pasando. El actual Gobierno de centro derecha del Nuevo Partido Demócrata ha sido llamativamente incapaz de cumplir sus promesas de cambio. El Gobierno de Karamanlis no ha liberalizado suficientemente la economía, ni mejorado la disciplina presupuestaria, ni reformado el anticuado sistema universitario público. Pero sí se ha visto afectado por diversos escándalos, además de presidir uno de los peores periodos de agitación ciudadana en décadas.
Las elecciones anticipadas podrían parecer una opción evidente. A pesar de su distinguido historial, el izquierdista PASOK, ahora en la oposición, tiene dificultades para encontrar un programa creíble. Dado que ambos partidos están infectados, es probable que aumente la desconfianza popular hacia los políticos. A no ser que alguien encuentre suficiente energía para romper la situación dada, Grecia podría seguir enterrándose cada vez más en un agujero económico.
.Αυτά τα ολίγα σκέπτονται για την Ελλάδα μας.